Colorado’s Drivers License Requirements for Undocumented Immigrants

Hanes & Bartels March 20, 2012

“How can I just get a driver’s license?”

Immigration attorneys hear this question all the time. After all, a driver’s license not only opens the door to the ability to drive legally, but can also assist the license holder in finding employment, boarding a plane, or renting a house or apartment.

The answer for undocumented residents of Colorado thus far, however, has not been good news. But there are some signs that Colorado may change its stance on granting drivers licenses to undocumented individuals.

Under current Colorado law, individuals seeking a driver’s license must show proof that they are a Colorado resident, and that they are living in the United States legally. To renew an existing driver’s license, Colorado generally requires the applicant to provide his or her social security number. Therefore, individuals who originally obtained a license while on a temporary legal status (such as a student or employment visa), but whose status has since expired, are unable to renew their license.

But a recent push by certain groups, including “Driver’s License For All”, hopes to make driver’s licenses available to undocumented immigrants as well. To do so, “Driver’s License For All” must collect 85,000 signatures, at which point the issue will appear on November’s ballot.

The proposed change in the law would require undocumented residents of Colorado to show proof of where they are from, and show proof that they pay taxes in the United States.

Advocates in favor of allowing undocumented individuals to have driver’s licenses argue that doing so will make roads safer by allowing the government to test and monitor undocumented drivers, and will permit them to purchase insurance. Proponents also contend that undocumented drivers will benefit the economy by spending money on cars, mechanics, parts, etc.

Opponents of the proposed change, however, believe that providing driver’s licenses to undocumented aliens could allow threats to homeland security, such as terrorists entering the country illegally, to obtain legal identification which they could then use for many purposes, including boarding a plane.

There are currently eleven states that grant some form of driving privileges to undocumented drivers. Of those, only New Mexico and Washington provide full benefits to undocumented individuals identical to all other driving residents. Other states, such as Utah, allow undocumented immigrants to use the licenses to drive, but not for other privileges such as obtaining a job or buying alcohol.

For more information, call Josh Deere at 719-266-2797.